THE TENACITY OF PREJUDICE: Anti-Semitism in contemporary America by Gertrude J. & Stephen Steinberg Selznick

THE TENACITY OF PREJUDICE: Anti-Semitism in contemporary America

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This excellent study of contemporary anti-Semitism, based on a nationwide survey made in 1964 by Berkeley and Chicago-connected researchers, takes aim in a quiet way at a number of influential theories regarding this and other forms of prejudice. Comparing results with earlier surveys, the authors find a decrease in willingness to discriminate overtly, and in ""political anti-Semitism"" (""the Jews have too much power""); they see a persistence of ""conventional"" social and economic biases (Jews are ""monied,"" ""clannish,"" ""unethical"") which were endorsed by half the sample. Most decisive among the causes, the authors think, is lack of education, a factor strongly identifying the most prejudiced. Noting that the less educated were also lower in income and social status, they criticize the common idea that anti-Semitism is a middle-class phenomenon, rooted in competition with middle-class Jews. Their stress on cognitive sources for anti-Semitism (the most biased were marked by lack of critical, complex thinking, and minimal awareness of cultural or political surroundings) leads to an attack on T. W. Adorno's ""emotive"" interpretation (anti-Semitism as a result of authoritarian tendencies inculcated by a repressive childhood). The two views are of course complementary, and will probably be reconciled by later theorists. Other sidelights: findings on black anti-Semitism (they see it as originating in ghetto experience); a comparison between anti- Negro and anti-Semitic adherents. Generally the authors see no danger of an active outbreak of the ""widespread, pervasive"" anti-Semitism that exists; but they regard its presence as a sign of weak support for full pluralism. A meticulous, stimulating contribution to a debate which is still open-ended.

Pub Date: July 16th, 1969
ISBN: 0313209650
Publisher: Harper & Row